Paradigm Titan Version 2 Speakers
PARADIGM TITAN BOOKSHELF SPEAKERS REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
Two-way Bass Reflex Design
3/4" CMC Dome Tweeter, One 6 1/2" Polypropylene Mid/Bass Driver
60 Hz - 20 kHz
8 Ohms Nominal
13"H x 7"W x 10"D
10 1/2 Pounds Each
off the bat, this feels like a product update rather than a product review. Just about anyone interested in speakers is familiar with the Paradigm
Titan. Since 1991, it has earned
praise upon praise, all with a re-occurring theme: Remarkable performance at a
price that most would regard as shameful. Since its introduction, the Titan has gone through some minor changes, but it is
only this last year that the changes prompted Paradigm to use a "Version 2"
to identify them.
original Titans featured a Vifa high frequency transducer (tweeter) and a bass driver
based on a good ol' stamped steel basket. Around 1995, the speaker underwent a quiet revolution as its driver
complement was replaced with all Paradigm-built units including a new bass
driver sporting a cast metal chassis, which to this day, is a rarity at this
price. Very, very late model Titans benefited from a connection upgrade, going
from clips to binding posts, but again, this took place quietly. Today's Version 2 has even more to offer, the specifics of which
we'll get into here.
I've already implied, the Titan has a very good reputation as perhaps the speaker in the under $250/pair (cnd) category. This
may not necessarily make it a miracle in terms of audiophile ecstasy, but it has
achieved something mythical in terms of price vs. performance. This new model has some tough shoes to fill.
first glance, the Titan still seems to be a run of the mill "Two-way 6 incher
bookshelf". The mid/bass driver
is a 6.5" cone made of polypropylene with foam surround and cast
chassis. The high-frequency transducer though is very new. The
3/4" polyamide dome has been replaced with a metal/ceramic (CMC - Ceramic -
Metal - Ceramic Composite) one of the same
size. Integrated into its mount
is a wave guide of sorts. It looks
astonishingly like a scaled down version of Paradigms 1" Titanium tweeter
which has played a huge part in the success of their current Monitor line of
speakers, a step up from where the Titan plays. Whereas the original cabinet was all wood, we now have a molded plastic
allowing the Titans to work in for a couple of weeks, I gathered a stack of CDs
and promptly got lost in the music, quite literally. The soundstage presented by these modest speakers easily
transcends the physical placement of the boxes by about 3 or 4 feet on either
side when they are only 6 or 7 feet apart. I have a real clean disc of Miles Davis where the drums are predominantly to the right and piano to the left. The danger in such a recording is that these two instruments can sound as
though they are coming precisely from their respective speaker and thus out of
proportion (like two simultaneous mono recordings). The Titan successfully circumnavigated this, delivering a drum set which
surrounded the right speaker rather than emanating from it. This wideness does not come at a cost of imaging which was resolute and
sufficiently precise. A man whose
ears I particularly trust once said of the Titans, "they sound even better when
played loud". Indeed, when pushing
the envelope with Dire Straits "On every
Street", all the content was clear and clean with a good deal of bass which
stressed only as I ducked behind the couch and went for broke. Here is where I found a similarity with the
version 1s: at the lower end of the Titan's capabilities, the bass can sound
a little "fat" as evidenced by David Plitch's bass in some Holly Cole
material. His instrument was very
musical but "loud". It
bears noting though that in certain situations where a budget speaker might find
itself, this could be a welcome trait. For
those for whom an inexpensive speaker will have to tide them over, just a hair
of "fatness" in the bass can
make up for the lack of a subwoofer on movie soundtracks. Plus, when you do get a sub, rolling off the Titans should blend things
Titans have a good amount of detail. Small
sounds like fingers plucking stringed instruments or the rick-tick-a-tick of a
hi-hat cymbal come through nicely. On
the quieter side of things, Tracey Chapman and her lone guitar I noted as being
very real and "alive". On the
whole, the speakers are neutral. Only the highest
notes of soprano opera caused me to squint.
one thing I felt was always lacking in the original Titan was a sense of front-to-back imaging in addition to left and right. I'm happy to report that the new V.2 is one step
closer to where I wished the old Titan would have been. The new tweeter is simply faster and more accurate than the previous, and
able to reach, maybe not fully into, but at least one step into three
Within the context of its price, the Titan is a tremendous sounding speaker.
How do they make
such an inexpensive speaker sound so good? A wise man once said: "It costs just as much to do it right as it
does to do it wrong". While it
would be beyond the scope of this review to attempt such a topic, I will share
with you some of the more interesting ideas I got from a man in the know. Keep in mind that at this price point, a mass produced
speaker's price is greatly affected by every little thing right down to ounces of
manpower and shipping costs. The
first thing you are likely to notice when handling a Titan it that the grille
does not come off. The grille
cloth you see is stretched and secured directly to the front baffle.
So, cost is reduced by not having the extra piece of wood or plastic or the normal grille
mounting hardware. More interestingly though, for a given fixed set of external
dimensions, Paradigm has maximized the internal volume, and we all know how
valuable volume can be. Also of
note is the new plastic rear baffle. The
old Titans required one piece of wood, the tube for the port, and a plastic
mount for the clips or binding posts. The
new plastic baffle lets Paradigm mount the terminals right on the back as well
as get a flared mouth for the port molded right in. Less parts, less labor, less cost (and a flared mouth for the
port to boot). Finally, the
crossover is simple (see photo above). No expensive
circuit board here. The parts are
assembled in a cluster and then attached to an inside wall. Will you notice an audible difference? At this price, shame on you for even trying! It may sound like nitpicking, but at a couple hundred bucks,
every dollar counts.
is something in each one of our journeys as audio diehards that I call a religious
experience, and you will hear me talk of it more in an upcoming article. Although I am not quite prepared to lump the Titan in with this sacred
circle of products, I begin to wonder:
Paradigm bent down an ear from heaven to make a miracle like the Titan possible? I cannot think of a person, of generous or modest means, who shouldn't
have a pair of these around the house. If
you are a budding audiophile, this is a great place to get your feet wet while
you develop your personal tastes. I
currently use a pair of version 1 Titans as surround speakers. What about the kids going to college? You want to send them off with quality sound but at a price you can
afford for an overzealous roommate to abuse. And I have seen countless retail and restaurant locations using multiple
pairs with great satisfaction.
my life take on a simpler financial style, I think I could still wake up with
a smile if I had a roof over my head, Kraft Dinner in the pantry, and a pair of
Titans to soothe my soul.
Our review set of Titans arrived with a pair of unsolicited Premier C-50 speaker stands. Besides being a nice gesture, this exudes a sort of confidence by Paradigm that one will want to really listen to the Titan, not just shove it on a bookshelf somewhere. Where did we come up with that term "bookshelf" anyway? It may have made sense at one time, but I can't understand why some manufacturers label a $3,000 monitor as "bookshelf". I prefer the term "stand-mounted" or even "mini-monitor" if those haven't been trademarked yet.
Titan, or any other "bookshelf" speaker, will only be its best on a decent
stand. The C-50 is just right at
$90cnd and has everything I'd want:
It elevates the speaker to the correct height.
It does so without a lot of frontal surfaces.
It comes with adjustable spike feet, making it easy to get the speakers level (the floorboards under my carpet aren't exactly perfect if you know what I mean) .
One can opt to either run the speaker cable through the stand post (for a "stealthy" appearance) or plug the bottom hole and fill the post with whatever you can get (sand, lead, cat litter...) to improve stability and kill any metallic resonance.
A decent stand not only does the above but, if solid enough, it can help a speaker in areas of dynamics and bass. A poor stand which is not solid will actually "rock" with the speaker, absorbing some of its energy.
The C-50: A good mate for the Titan; and probably a good mate for your other speakers.